Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 1862: An Attack in the Making

College Road in Canehill, Arkansas
The news that the Confederate cavalry had crossed the Boston Mountains and occupied Cane Hill (see First Skirmish near Cane Hill), prompted the always aggressive Union General James G. Blunt into action.

Having sent out cavalry units on the 25th to skirmish with Confederate scouting units between his camp north of Siloam Springs and the Southern camps at Cane Hill, Blunt decided to attack. Even though he claimed in his reports that the Confederate cavalry numbered 8,000 men (the actual number was fewer than 3,000), the Union general organized an army of only 5,000 men to strike against them.

On November 27, 1862, 149 years ago today, the Federals moved out:

Gen. John S. Marmaduke, C.S.A.
Early on the morning of the 27th, I ordered all my transportation and commissary trains parked on Lindsey’s Prairie, and, after detailing a sufficient guard for its protection, I commenced my march, with about 5,000 men and thirty pieces of artillery, the men taking with them four days’ rations of hard bread and salt. The distance to be traveled to reach the enemy was 35 miles, of which 25 were made by 7 p.m. on the 27th, when the command bivouacked for the night. From that point I sent spies into the enemy’s camp, and learned that there pickets were strongly posted on the main road (on which I was advancing), and that it could be easily defended. - Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt, Dec. 3, 1862.

In the Confederate camps, meanwhile, General John S. Marmaduke knew that Federal troops were to the north in large force, but did not know they were on the move. His three brigades were not unified, but instead one was camped in each of the three large villages along the Cane Hill ridge. Although it was not really planned, this would allow him to fight a staggered or tiered defense the next day when Blunt attacked.

The Battle of Cane Hill would take place the next day and I will post about it tomorrow. To learn more in the meantime, please visit

The events were prelimaries of the coming Battle of Prairie Grove. You can read more about it anytime at

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